Abu Dhabi: A clinical bowling performance followed by a solid batting display led New Zealand to a comprehensive 8-wicket win over Afghanistan in their last Super 12 stage match and helped them qualify for the semi-finals of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, here on Sunday.
The victory took the Black Caps to eight points, with four wins from five matches. It confirmed a top-two place in Group 2 for them, along with Pakistan, as the two teams join England and Australia from Group 1 in the semi-finals. This is the third time that New Zealand have made it to the semi-finals in T20 World Cups following 2007 and 2016.
Riding on a fighting fifty by Najibullah Zadran (73 off 48), Afghanistan posted a respectable 124/8 in 20 overs. While Zadran was the lone warrior for Afghanistan, Gulbadin Naib (15) and Mohammad Nabi (14) also chipped in with cameos while Trent Boult 3-17 and Tim Southee 2-24 were the main wicket-takers for the Black Caps.
Chasing a small target, the Black Caps got off to a good start, with regular boundaries in the first three overs, before Mujeeb Ur Rahman gave Afghanistan the breakthrough.
Mujeeb, who had missed a couple of games in the Super 12 because of an injury struck with a carrom ball, as Daryl Mitchell (17) knicked to the wicketkeeper. However, back-to-back boundaries from Martin Guptill in Mujeeb’s another over took New Zealand to a comfortable 45/1 in the powerplay.
Afghanistan were forced to bring in Rashid Khan early in their defence of a small total. And, Rashid didn;t disappoint and claimed his 400th wicket in T20s when a wrong ‘un had Guptill, who was looking to sweep, bowled.
Meanwhile, New Zealand pacer Adam Milne has said that his team is aware of facing a tough challenge from England in the semi-finals of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. He added that New Zealand back themselves to do well against any opposition, including a ‘world-class’ England team. New Zealand is all set to face England in a re-match of the 2016 Men’s T20 World Cup semi-final, won by Eoin Morgans side by seven wickets in New Delhi.
Afghanistan: 124/8 in 20 overs (Najibullah Zadran 73; Trent Boult 3-17, Tim Southee 2-24)
New Zealand: 125/2 in 18.1 overs (Kane Williamson 40 not out, Devon Conway 36 not out; Rashid Khan 1/27)